The ongoing global financial situation continues to soak up the average consumer's spare cash, forcing people to re-assess their spending on a daily basis. I for one am bored of having to phone the bank to pre-authorise a personal loan to fill up the car with a tank of petrol before I travel on the motorway. While the media may be guilty of fanning the flames of recession talk, they certainly aren't guilty of lighting the fire in the first place.
I'm waiting for one of my favourite brands to approach loyalty smartly in these cash conscious times. I'm on databases, they have my email address, and probably my mobile number, and I'm ready and waiting for my loyalty to be rewarded. If they invest in me, then I'm happy to commit to them, there's always a good deal to be done in times like these.
However, only two brands are talking to me and trying to save me money. The Times, with their 20% off subscription offer, which is flexible, good value and promoted out of the newspaper itself, which is an industry first, and Varsity bars. Varsity bars is an odd one in this context, as it's a student focused drinks business, and my student days pre-date the internet. No matter, I signed up online to see how their CRM process worked, and to be honest, it's surprisingly good. Received an email and an SMS highlighting their special offers to save me money on beer this week. They are talking to me, and if I was a student right now, I'd be listening.
Those who know us, will recognise that we are passionate about loyalty. Identify your best customers and prospects so you can communicate with them on as near an individual basis as possible, then recognise and reward their loyalty. It's a long term game, but an ultimately profitable one. Get it right, then it can securitise a business in the medium to long term. And therein lies the challenge. The average tenure of a marketing director is apparently under three years in the UK. Successful loyalty programmes need time to develop, implement and nurture. They grow over time, but are not a short term fix, they need investment, resource and expertise to get them off the ground in a smart and successful manner. Like children, they need nurturing, attention and money.
Our view, the time is right now for successful loyalty schemes to take root, when consumers want to be recognised and rewarded. Question is, who is going to take the plunge and back a medium-term investment rather than a short term fix? Time will tell.
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